Bang, Bang, You're Dead (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 89:25 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Guy Ferland
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Cavanagh
Ben Foster
Randy Harrison
Janel Maloney
Jane McGregor
David Paetkau
Eric Johnson
Kristian Ayre
Brent Glenan
Gillian Barber
Eric Keenleyside
Glynis Davies
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Reinhold Heil


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
Dutch
Norwegian
Finnish
Swedish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, various school productions of the play.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“Kids can be the most ruthless people in the world. They can be supernaturally cruel.”

    Trevor (a very talented Ben Foster) is, in his own words, the school pariah. After planting a fake bomb under the high school football team’s seating at the homecoming game, he is feared and outcast by all. Previously a model A-student, he has begun fantasising about violence and has assumed a demeanour of menace. After undergoing summer school and counselling, he is now resuming class again at Riverdale High, bringing his hand-held camera along to create a sort of video diary. The school is in the midst of implementing a new Zero Tolerance programme, which involves automatic expulsion for death threats, on-campus security, and metal detectors at the entrance.

    It soon becomes apparent that Riverdale High has a severe problem with bullying. One of the teachers who is vaguely aware of the problem, Mr. Duncan (Tom Cavanagh), is determined to give Trevor a second chance to reform and re-enter the school community, and encourages him to take the lead in the school production of Bang, Bang, You’re Dead, a contemporary play about a boy who shoots dead his parents and five children at his school. But the rampant bullying is dividing the school between the Jocks and the Trogs – the Riverdale High equivalent of Columbine High’s ‘Trench Coat Mafia’. Soon Trevor is associating with this darker element in school, managing anger with guns and fantasising about killing those who have made him suffer.

    Bullying is a major problem in schools and has been for many years. I’m not talking about the horsing around that you do between friends. I mean physical and, more often, psychological abuse. Children often revert to the Realpolitik of primacy of force in order to structure a social hierarchy in the school ground. Those who are not strong enough to fight will sometimes rely on the ‘fear = respect’ model and make themselves out to be psychos in order to be left alone. However, in an era of computer game saturation, children will often begin believing these roles they play, which creates all kinds of psychological harm.

    This film reached me on a personal level. Like many kids I was the subject of bullying at school, and generally hung out with the intellectual outcast crowd who were far more interesting, despite the fact that I copped lots of flak for it. That is not to say sometimes it did not get to me or sometimes I did not think about getting my own back for some of the nastier things that were done to me. Certainly not to this extent, though, but maybe I was just not as disaffected. In the end it all seems to even out, though. Time is quite the decider, and in hindsight you can see why so many of those ‘popular’ kids struggled for dominance in their youth, because they knew they were either too dumb or too lazy to achieve anything more in later life. In retrospect I can pity the kids who used to pick on me, many of whom have since gone on to less than successful careers in drug addiction and petty crime. Indeed, I can see a similar future for Trevor's tormentors, many of whom will be washed up sportsmen drinking beer and watching weekend football thinking about all the wouldas, couldas and shouldas.

    But you do not have the benefit of foresight when you are a kid, or the maturity to properly understand such a concept, and that is where Trevor and the other disaffected youth from Bang, Bang, You’re Dead are seeing the world. They do not have the life experience to bolster their self-esteem in other ways and so regress into anger, depression, hatred and ultimately violence, whether inflicted against self or others. Their relationships with others are tenebrous at best, and the one thing that gives Trevor any grounding to something he enjoys, his play, is banned by the school board before it can be performed. This further isolates him and threatens to push him over the edge.

    Sure, this film is not perfect. But given that it was made for TV with a limited budget it is extremely good, and worthy viewing material. It is quite an affecting film, despite a few clichés, and one that speaks well to all of you who were ever disaffected youths, whether male or female. Highly recommended.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, and thus non-16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio.

    This is shot partially in digital video, taken from the camera that Trevor always walks around with, and partially on film. While the digital video work is intentionally touched up to give it a video feel, the film transfer is perfect.

    Colours are well saturated, shadow detail is excellent, and there is no grain or pixelization. The transfer is smooth, clean and crisp.

    No MPEG artefacts were present and I also detected no film-to-video transfer artefacts. So, there was no moire, no low-level noise, no posterisation - in short, no nothing.

    I went back through looking for dirt on the print and there was the odd dot, but really nothing much. I really had to hunt, and after a while just gave up. This is a very, very clean transfer. The best I can do for you is what is either a hair or a tiny tear in the top centre of the picture at 85:56 - 86:44 which is noticeable but not really distracting.

    Subtitles are available in Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish. They are white with a black border, and convey the dialogue fairly accurately as far as I can tell.

    This is a single-sided, single-layered disc – there is no dual-layer pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks available – the original English 2.0 Dolby Surround track, and two audio overdubs, one in Italian, one in Spanish, all in 2.0 Dolby Surround. The foreign tracks were fine, although the overdub tends to kill some of the ambience. The original audio track deserves a little more attention.

    Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. There were no audio sync problems.

    The score by Reinhold Heil has very good ambience and fills out the surrounds. It also displays quite an impressive range for a mere 2.0 Dolby Surround track.

    There were plenty of left-right directional cues, but not so much in the way of cues from the rear. There was ambient crowd noise in scenes set in school hallways or cafeterias, and I noticed echoes from the rear from the gunshots, but no overwhelming activity.

    Sadly, there is no subwoofer use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, static and silent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as I can tell, aside from the NTSC/PAL differential, the R1 release would appear to be identical.

Summary

    Bang, Bang, You’re Dead is an engrossing and well told TV movie about a very important subject in our education system. Australia is not this bad yet, and perhaps this film serves an extra bonus as a cautionary tale.

    The video transfer is very good, and virtually flawless.

    The sound is good for a 2.0 Dolby Surround mix, but I would have loved to have seen some effort go into a 5.1 Dolby Digital remix.

    The absence of any extras was a massively wasted opportunity. This would have been an ideal place to include documentaries about the effects of bullying and violence in schools, an exploration of the political viability of the Zero Tolerance program, and maybe even some insight provided by the makers of the film. But no – nix, nada, nothing. Sigh.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Friday, August 29, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE